“I wouldn’t describe Alexandria as hot,” I say, silencing them both. They stare at me as if I’ve gone insane. “She’s…beautiful.”
The slow smile I see forming on Shep’s lips makes me want to smack it off. “Uh, oh. You have a thing for Kelli’s friend?”
“Didn’t you make out with Kelli?” Gabe asks.
I practically growl with frustration. “One time. One mistake. It lasted all of five minutes, if that, and then we realized real quick that way led to nothing but madness.”
“And you think we’re dramatic.” Shep rolls his eyes. “You’re the one making out with Jade’s best friend and getting beer dumped on your head by her new friend.”
“Kelli and I kissed months ago,” I stress. “I barely remember it. It was nothing.” Truly, it was. I have no interest in Kelli like that. Hell, she wanted Gabe for a very brief moment in time. Girl was pretty much flailing after getting dumped by her loser ex-boyfriend.
Perfect example of why relationships suck. They never end well, and when they do? Someone—or the both of them—end up spiraling out of control.
“Were you trying to pick up Alex?” Gabe asks.
“Is it Alex or Alexandria?” I don’t know if I like thinking of her as an Alex. That’s a man’s name. And she’s the farthest thing from a man.
Gabe shrugs as Shep answers, “She usually goes by Alex. That’s what Jade told me.”
“Do you know her?” I look at Gabe.
“I talked to her last night for a while.” He smirks. “After the beer-dumping incident.”
Traitor. I want to ask if she said anything about me but I keep my mouth shut.
“She asked what your deal was,” Gabe adds.
So she did talk about me. I can’t help but like this. He says nothing else and neither do I. All three of us shovel our mouths full of food, then take sips of coffee. Shep chugs a glass of ice water and still we don’t say anything.
Finally I can’t stand it any longer.
“What did you tell her?”
Gabe wipes his mouth with a napkin. “I told her you were a horn dog with a capital H and D and that she should steer clear.”
Great. “You made me sound like an asshole.”
“You are an asshole.” Gabe points at me. “I’m not going to piss off the girls by allowing you to snare one of their friends into your temporary trap. Jade and Lucy both said she’s really nice. Kelli mentioned that Alex doesn’t talk much about herself, but she seems lonely and she likes her. They want to bring her into the fold. You’re not allowed to touch any girl within the fold.”
“I touched Kelli,” I point out.
“And look how well that worked out.”
I say nothing because Gabe’s right. Kissing Kelli had been a mistake. Luckily enough, she felt the same way and it hadn’t made things weird between us. “This is going to turn into an I-want-what-I-can’t-have situation, you know.” I probably shouldn’t have admitted that but what’s done is done. Denial is not a part of my vocabulary. Them telling me Alexandria is off limits?
Makes me want her that much more, despite the beer dumping incident. Despite her disgust with me, and the stupid things I said. I regret nothing, but what I said to Alexandria to make her dump her warm, foamy beer on my head?
I regret it. It was callous and cold and I can’t blame her for what she did.
Gabe and Shep send each other a look before they turn their attention to me. “We know what that’s like,” Shep says slowly.
“Right,” I snort, taking another sip of my still hot coffee.
“It’s exactly how I felt when I started to fall for Jade,” Shep adds.
My appetite disappears. Just like that.
“I denied myself from going after Lucy for way too long,” Gabe says, shaking his head. “We played a real back and forth game. Drove me insane with wanting her.”
Last thing I want to hear. I shove my plate away from me. “I’m done.”
The matching incredulous expressions they share would’ve been amusing any other time. Not right now. None of this shit they’re telling me is funny. “But you barely ate,” Shep points out. He sounds oddly like my mother, the freak.
“Lost my appetite,” I mutter as I toss my napkin onto my plate. “I need to go. See you guys later?”
“Yeah,” they both say as I slide out of the booth and make my escape out of the diner.
The cold November air smacks me in the face when I walk outside, reminding me that winter is indeed coming. I huddle my face into my hoodie as best as I can and hurry across campus, heading to class. Girls smile and nod at me as I pass by and I smile and nod back. My reputation follows me everywhere I go and normally I love it. I strut like a fucking peacock, wanting the girls to flock to me. They all say the same thing, over and over again.
He’s a flirt. He’s got a big dick. He’s good in bed. He’s a sex god. He’s charming. He’s funny.
Those are the good things. But they say other things too.
He’s selfish. He goes through women like toilet paper. He’s cold hearted. Mean spirited. He drinks too much. He uses girls and tosses them aside.
Shame hits me and I mentally shove it away. I’m in college. If I want to be selfish and fuck around, I have every right. I shouldn’t care what other people think, especially jealous, vengeful girls who are pissed at me for not being into them long enough to want to stick around.
My gaze snags on a blonde up ahead and I slow my steps, contemplating her. She’s thin and willowy, just like Alexandria. Her hair streams down her back, the morning sun glinting it with threads of honey gold and I swear to God my heart picks up speed when I think it might be her.
But when she turns left at the next building, disappointment threatens to swallow me. It’s not Alexandria. My reaction to the possibility was way over the top.
And fucking scary as hell.
“Can I ask you a question?” I pluck at an imaginary thread on the inside seam of my jeans, my head bent. I feel super dumb for asking this but the words have hung on the tip of my tongue since the night of the party. I just didn’t know how to approach it. Approach her.
“Go for it.” Kelli pauses and I glance up to meet her gaze. “This isn’t about the latest chapter, is it? Because I don’t get the new formula.” She sighs and leans back against her seat. “I’m going to fail this stupid class, I know it.”
We’re in the library, hidden away on the fourth floor, our statistics books spread out before us on a table. We don’t know what the hell we’re doing but we’re muddling through. We have a test at the end of the week and I know Kelli’s nervous about it.
So am I. But I’m more nervous to ask her what’s been on my mind and I hope she doesn’t hate me for it.
“It’s not about the chapter.” I wave my hand at our books, grimacing. God, I hate math. “It’s about…Tristan Prescott.”
Now I have Kelli’s full attention. Her gaze narrows and her lips curl in this mischievous smile that makes dread coil in my stomach. “What do you want to know?”
I swallow hard, my throat dry. I told myself I didn’t want to know anything. He made me so angry when he made that casual remark Saturday night. Who says things like that?